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Dental Faculty Practice

Orofacial Pain Clinic - Dental Acupuncture

FOR APPOINTMENTS, CALL: (919) 537-3939

The scope of dental acupuncture includes the management of:

What happens during a treatment?

Acupuncture involves stimulation of the body at certain points. During a treatment, thin steel needles are inserted into the skin, then manipulated gently by hand or with light electrical stimulation. The same points may also be pressed (acupressure) or warmed (moxibustion). Treatment is short and may be performed during dental treatment. About half a dozen weekly treatments are usually indicated.

Does it work?

Acupuncture needles stimulate the nervous system, changing the way we process pain signals and releasing natural painkillers such as endorphins and serotonin in the nervous system. Each patient responds to acupuncture differently. Some people notice an immediate improvement, while others need several treatments to experience the full effect. Some may not respond at all. The British Dental Acupuncture Association reported that about 70% of patients show some benefit.

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Dental Acupuncture

Researchers have found acupuncture to be effective in treating dental anxiety. A 2010 study by Rosted et al. of 20 dental patients with moderate to severe anxiety found a significant decrease in anxiety after acupuncture treatment. Karst et al. (2007) reported similar anxiety reduction in dental patients treated either with anti-anxiety drugs or with acupuncture.

Acupuncture has also been found effective in reducing pain following dental surgery. Rosted et al. (2002) found acupuncture was effective in reducing pain following dental extraction. Tavares et al. (2007) found electro-acupuncture effective in reducing pain following dental surgery.

Acupuncture is effective in reducing xerostomia, or dry mouth. A 2011 study by Braga et al. reported that acupuncture significantly reduced the severity of radiation-induced xerostomia.

Acupuncture for Orofacial Pain

Recent research has also shown acupuncture to be effective in treating temporomandibular disorders (TMD) or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

A systematic review by La Touche et al. (2010) found that acupuncture is a reasonable adjunctive treatment for producing a short-term analgesic effect in patients with painful TMD symptoms, while a review by Myers et al. (2002) found acupuncture to be comparable to conservative treatment for treating chronic facial pain.

Another systematic review by Liu et al. (2010) determined that acupuncture has a similar effect on trigeminal neuralgia as carbamazepine (CBZ), a conventional drug, but with fewer adverse effects.

Shen et al. (2009) found that subjects receiving real acupuncture experienced a significant reduction in jaw pain, jaw/face tightness, and neck pain, and a significant increase in pain tolerance of the masseter muscle.

About Dr. Jongbae J. Park

Dr. ParkDr. Park, an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor with the UNC Faculty of Dentistry, has published many articles in the field, and is editor of Complementary Therapies in Medicine (Elsevier). He holds PhDs in medical sciences and Korean medicine and a doctorate in Korean medicine (KMD). He has practiced acupuncture in North Carolina since his licensure in 2008. He is Director of Asian Medicine and Acupuncture Research for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in UNC's School of Medicine and serves on the board of directors for the Society for Acupuncture Research and the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research.

Patient Testimonials

"After I received acupuncture treatment, the pain was miraculously gone."
-- Chang-Ki Han

"Dr. Park is a gifted and compassionate healer. He answers my questions and gives me less to be concerned about. He helps me understand the physical, physiological and psychological changes I am experiencing as we work towards restoring my health."
-- Deborah Padgett

"Dr. Park gave my father much more than just pain relief. He treated my father with kindness, gentleness and compassion. My dad likes to say that Dr. Park has healing hands. indeed very fortunate to have a physician of his caliber on staff."
-- Novella Jane Landreth

"I would say that Dr. Park gave me my life back, but it is more accurate to say that he helped me to see how I could get my life back for myself. I am very grateful to Dr. Park for his knowledge, compassion, and care. I would highly recommend Dr. Park's clinic to anyone who wants to feel better and live better."
-- Margaret Rosemond Soler

"[After acupuncture treatment] I am making steady, measurable progress...after conventional therapies had reached a plateau."
-- Elfriede Pisko